Seems to me I've heard that song before.

Legend (along with enough web sites to more or less corroborate the claim, not to mention Robert Browning's verse version of the story) holds that it was on this day, in 1376, that the Pied Piper led the rats out of Hamelin. There are claims for other dates as well, but historical accuracy in a case such as this is pretty much an impossibility right from the start.

It's a well known story, and many have tried to interpret it but what, other than offering me my rather compulsory date tie-in, does it have to do with this special birthday issue of the Boidem?

It may be a trend, though my guess is that it's only coincidence. Whatever, of late I've encountered numerous reports on the dangers of the internet for our children. There's nothing new in these reports, other than that they've become more prevalent of late. If it is a trend, it suggests that what was once a promise is seen more and more as a threat. Like the Pied Piper, the internet delivered a desirable service, but suddenly we discover that it's stealing our children.

Of course there's nothing really new in that approach to any technological innovation. Our culture seems to have always had a Faustian sort of relationship to these. Still, the internet plays a mean tune, and one can easily understand how we can be convinced to follow. For the five years that these columns have examined different aspects of life with the internet, I've devoted a minimum of space to the danger warnings, and I haven't related to them particularly seriously. There seems to be more than enough of interest about this technology without resorting to Pied Piper like fears. If, as it may seem, the bearers of those fears are now mounting a new offensive, it would seem that I've got quite a bit of work cut out for me - simply to continue to examine different aspects of internet life both level-headedly and with a healthy dose of playfulness.

Go to: Something for Nothing.